The Mission Foods Mexican Festival has become one of the key calendar events in celebrating all things Mexican. With over 40,000 in attendance at last year’s event, it’s hard to argue with these numbers. This year is no different with the festival coinciding with the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, as Melbourne’s top Mexican chefs, artist and musicians transport the food and culture across all states of Mexico on Sunday 13th to Federation Square.
This year’s theme of Mission Foods Mexican Festival is the celebration of the diverse regions of Mexico. The festival seeks to further educate and appreciate the different regions – from the rainforest state of Tabasco to the busy streets of Mexico City – in a family friendly environment that will be a fully sensory experience. Mexico is more than just taco, burrito, quesadilla, guacamole etc.
To celebrate the occasion, The Modern Con was luckily enough to experience a teaser of what to expect at this year’s Mission Foods Mexican Festival with a Mexican bite and crawl Melbourne.
Mamasita is just one of many restaurants to be offering food at Mission Foods Mexican Festival – including the likes of Touche Hombre, Los Amates, La Tortilleria, Mexico City, Paco’s Tacos, Mesa Verde, Kikiriki, Guzman y Gomez, South American BBQ and Mad Mex. It was at Mamasita were we explored the South East region of Mexico, highlighting the influences of the sea, spice and mezcal.
Mezcal is a type of tequila that is distilled in a particular region of Mexico (just like the comparison between Champagne and sparkling wine) that is free to use different types of agave (the key organic ingredient) as opposed to tequila which has stricter requirements.
Just like all good liquor and other beverages, there is a diverse range of aromas and flavours that can be experienced. We were taught a cool trick to experiencing the aromas: covering the hand over the shot glass, gently shaking the liquor around until the hand is moist with mezcal/tequila and lastly by rubbing your hand together and bring your nose to your palms extracts the scent.
With a joyful hot fish dish that was served with nachos and with plenty of sipping of the mezcal and worm salt garnished on oranges made for an impressive start.
The next stage involved six flights of steps at Curtain House (most commonly known for Cookie and Rooftop bar) where you will find Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde takes inspiration in being a ‘salon bar’. Subtle dimmed lighting mixed with strong wooden furniture consist of the key decor elements and complemented with classic western movie posters.
This stop focused on sampling Quinta de Gomez, an organic tequila that is distilled and rested in White Oak Barrels [40% ABV]. Considered one of the top tier tequilas, strong hints of spice and rich earth flavours could be identify that made sipping (tequila was never made to be a shot) a pleasant experience.
Another range sample was the Don Chuy Autentico Reposado Mezcal and has a distinctive red shade to the mezcal colour. This is due to being naturally fermented with wild yeast and rested in red wine barrels for 12 months – creating sweet flavour tones.
Pairing with the different mezcal and tequila was Queso Fundido (melted oaxaca & local cheeses served with warm tortillas) which is a cheese like dip and included toppings of cactus, chorizo and wild mushrooms.
This was just a few of the distilleries of mezcal and tequila that will be showcasing at this year’s festival. The Mission Foods Mexican Festival will be providing a Mexican Cantina (Mexican for bar) where festival goers can sample Mexican beer, wine, mezcal and tequila during the festival. The Cantina will be open from 1pm and will follow with tequila and mezcal tasting sessions.
Touche Hombre focused on the well-known element of Mexican food – the taco. Paired with a mug of tequila margarita, the impressive modern /pop culture vibe was fitting as the night progressed.
Tacos are a key dish to the Mexican diet, be it the north or south, and was said to be introduced upon arrival of the Europeans to Mexico. Irrespective to the finer historic details of the taco, no one can deny that they are a yummy dish.
The last stop of the night was a dessert bar that has just made tracks in Australia. ChillBro Paletas is situated in Menzies Lane that forms part of Melbourne Central, (entrance via Elizabeth Street) and for the past couple of months have been offering a unique Mexican dessert.
Believed to be a first of a kind in Australia, Paletas is a flavoured ice cream on a stick that originated in the mountain region of Mexico. The story goes that a select few from a village would climb a nearby mountain to collect ice used to make ice cream. The ice cream makers (known as Paletas) perfected their skills in created a range of ice cream flavours using real ingredients. This transformed into little carts that would sell on the streets and later coated chocolate and a variety of toppings soon followed.
We are tipping that come Summer, ChillBro Paletas is gong to be the place to cool down in the CBD that offers a terrific and diverse range of flavours and toppings.
Mission Foods Mexican Festival has something for everyone. Not only including an extensive range of food and drink to tantalise the taste buds, but showcasing Mexican art, live music, craft stalls and various food outlets. This Sunday, Melbourne will turn into a little Mexico. Be sure to bring your Mexican hat and appropriate attire as you visit Federation Square.
When: Sunday 13th September
Time: 11:30am – 8pm
Where: Federation Square
What to expect: Sensual experience of taste, smell, hear, touch and sight of all things Mexican
More information about Mission Food Mexican Festival can be found here.